Term of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Vinoth Sittaramane

Committee Member 1

Dongyu Jia

Committee Member 2

Rafael Quirino

Committee Member 3

W. Eric Gato

Committee Member 3 Email



Cancer remains one of the largest public health concerns of our day, particularly in developed countries where technological advances have allowed populations to live well into their eighth decade. In America, those in their 80’s have a 1 in 2 chance of developing cancer in their lifetime. Prostate cancer, specifically is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in males. Traditional cancer therapies cause high levels of toxicity to the patient due to mechanisms of action that often attack cancer cells and healthy cells alike. The holy grail of cancer research is to find a treatment that targets the cancer cell directly while leaving healthy cells unharmed. The introduction of monoclonal antibodies as a way to target antigens that are highly expressed on cancer cells may be one way to reach this goal. Coupling antibodies with nanomaterials has also shown promising results which is the subject of this study. Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) possess the unique ability to be rapidly heated under microwave irradiation. Furthermore, the sidewalls can be modified to attach various molecules and proteins to its surface. This study evaluated MWCNTs conjugated with an antibody directed against prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) in combination with microwave irradiation as a potential ablative therapy. This study demonstrates hyperthermic ablation of the muscle cells surrounding antibody-conjugated MWCNTs after microwave irradiation. Additionally, it showed that these nanotubes remain localized at the sight of injection with no evidence of distribution amongst other tissue. Time-lapse confocal microscopy using transgenic zebrafish larvae demonstrated that macrophages and neutrophils are the first immune responders with phagocytosis. These findings support further efficacy studies in a human prostate tumor xenograft mouse model.

Research Data and Supplementary Material